Friday, June 24, 2011

Whats in a Gender?

I was reading this NPR article the other day and thought I'd share in on here for anyone who has interest regarding the discussions surrounding gender. While the article is calculated to shock and, I'm sure, somewhat frighten main-streamers, I have to say that the Linton Weeks sidebar is more in line with what I see. But I live in Utah.
Two points concerning this article:
1. Everyone should care about the discussion and trends going on surrounding gender. No matter how we try to get away from it, in most situations it functions as our master status, ie the most important part of how we identify ourselves and then relate ourselves to a given situation, station etc. Think about it, if you go to the store and see someone in the line and you can't tell their ethnicity, height, weight, religion or socio-economic status, you probably won't blink twice. Now imagine you see someone whose gender you aren't sure of. Yeah, you blinked a couple times.
2. If I were a devil, I'd probably be pretty happy to move from people misusing the instincts of their biological imperative to people having no idea what their biological (and from a gospel standpoint, eternal) imperative is. Just saying.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Play Fortune Teller

I've been thinking about graduate school lately. Please ignore the poor sentence structure, grammatical errors and overall ignoramus assumptions you find on this blog while you consider the following:
What kind of graduate program could you see me doing?


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Goals Check no.2

Half way through the year. Probably a good time to remember I have some goals for the year and review them. I'm think this may get ugly though.

1. Get more sleep: Go to bed early, get up early.

Failing miserably. If I get enough sleep its usually when Johann gets up with Henry and I sleep-in. I don't think 10:30pm is a realistic goal for us now that its summer but I think maybe 11 or 11:30pm. We'll see. I would like to be an 8 hour a night person but I think if I can get a full 7 that will suffice.

2. Keep reading: Yup, purposefully very broad.

I go through little spurts but I definitely have kept reading. Since the last post I finished Emma which was enjoyable. I am coming to learn though that I'm not a huge Austen fan. Maybe the mini-series versions I have seen spoiled the novels for me? I don't know. Please Austen fans don't hurt me. Enjoyable-yes. A favorite-no.
After Emma I read-

Little Women-While there isn't anything particularly outstanding about it, it really knows how to endear itself to the reader and I enjoyed reading it.

Crime and Punishment-I think I was Russian in another life. Russian lit, how I love thee. The ending is one of the most beautiful I have ever read. The writing, the story, the characters, the implications-all incredible. This was my first encounter with Dostoevsky but certainly won't be my last.

Empire Falls-Alright, so here is where we come back to my issues with contemporary lit. I think in addition to being russian in another life, I was a puritan before that. I really have a difficult time with the way almost every contemporary book I have read deals with human sexuality and the description thereof. It's rare that any perspective is gained of the story or characters that couldn't have been otherwise reached sans raunchy description. Maybe I'm just a prude, but so much of that ruined bits of this book for me. I liked a lot of his writing, the prologue was great, unfortunately the rest of the novel didn't live up to it for me.

The Bridge of San Luis Rey-Interesting characters and idea. It was good but I haven't thought about it since which probably isn't a good sign.

The Color of Water-Definitely a unique story to tell as the son of jewish mother from the south and a black man from the north during the 1960s and 70s.

My Antonia-Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful.

Cutting for Stone-Alright, again, contemporary book, I'm a prude. I enjoyed the story, most of the writing-sometimes his medical description hindered rather than helped, some of the characters-how can you not like Hema and Ghosh but I felt like Verghesse wasn't even sure what to do with Marion, the main narrator, who he was and what he thought. The bits that were told in flash back or not from Marion's perspective were by far my favorite portions of the writing and book. There are a lot of interesting themes and unlike Bridge to San Luis Rey, I can say I have thought about it since reading it which, I think, is a good sign.

Currently I'm working on The Age of Innocence and enjoying the writing thus far.

3. Write more: Blog once a week. Go to the museum once a month and write about a particular painting or two.

Blogging. Check. Yeah, lets just scrap the museum idea. A notebook, pen and Henry at the's not gonna work.

4. Read a chapter from the Book of Mormon and a conference talk daily. Read the gospel doctrine and Relief Society lessons before class.

Check. I still enjoy reading the talks and scriptures together. It's wonderful also to see how we really are warned and forewarned. It helps me have a greater desire to really listen to what is being said in conferences.

5. Have a date with Johann weekly: even if that means just watching a movie together at home.

Kind of check. The last month and a half or so we haven't kept track, or at least I haven't. Probably need to get back on the date wagon.

6. Attend the temple monthly and have family home evening weekly.

Check for FHE and we have been to the temple monthly but we've had to go separately a couple times. I went this month for the first time by myself to an endowment session and it felt so strange. I'm not sure what our chances are of getting there together this month but we'll definitely try.

7.Keep a monthly budget.

Going well until May when there was a birthday, anniversary, mothers day and it was the busiest month for Johann school/practicum-wise. I am glad May is over. Other than May I haven't struggled too much to keep track and we're doing really good recording daily this month because of how May went. I think I will plan to keep this goal FOR-EV-ER.

8.Get rid of the weight I gained during (and after lovingly nurtured) while pregnant with Henry. I've been working on it but I need to make a very concerted effort to just kick the rest of it. Three years is long enough, though that first year I didn't sleep at all and I have a sneaking suspicion that didn't help me out much. Anyway, I have tons of excuses, now its just time to do it.

Was doing pretty good, got pregnant, miscarried, felt like crap, depressed, stopped going to the gym. Yeah. Not going great. Fortunately only a pound or two (depending on the day) has come back, but I can definitely tell I'm not as in shape as I use to be. We've started hiking in the mornings and I was carrying Henry up an incline and while I wasn't super winded, my legs definitely felt it more than they would have 3 months ago. So I'm back to recording what I'm eating, working out in the morning and trying to watch out for the sugar monster.

9. FINALLY take a family picture. It WILL happen this year. The end.

Good news on this score-one of my friends offered to do a free photo shoot for us this month. I think I want to kiss her. Lucky for her she moved out of Provo, or I just might have stopped by her house with a big one! Honestly, I'd given up on this one because of how expensive it can be and that plus planning when to do it and making sure we don't look like the ragamuffins we are all that just made it not worth it to me. But now that it's FREE, I can deal with the other two. Or maybe we will still be ragamuffins but at least we'll have a decent family photo form this year-hooray!

Well, that's how the goals go. 6 months almost down, 6 to go. How time flies.

Boot List: Update 1

Here is a little update on how we're doing with our boot list. Some items have been taken off, and some added from the original one found here mostly due to time and/or living the broke student life.

Simonds' family Utah Boot List:

1. Attend a session at the Salt Lake Temple
2. Go to the Gateway Discovery Children's Museum Check
3. Go to the Springville MOA
4. Go to the BYU MOA and eat at the MOA Cafe. yumm...
5. Visit Logan and/or Ogden. (We've never been north of SLC so we thought we should give it a whirl) Heading that way tomorrow
6. Visit one of those fancy SLC bakeries Check
7. Go to a BYU performance Check-I think we'll count Seussical for this though it wasn't an actual BYU performance unless we can manage something else. Hey it was at BYU so it kind of counts.
8. Attend the SLC symphony or opera Check
9. Eat at Diegos
10. Go bowling at BYU or FatCats
11. Hike the Y
12. Drive the Alpine loop
13. Ride one of the city buses
14. Visit Manti and see the temple
15. Go to the Cathedral of the Madeline
16. Attend a UofU symphony or Opera performance
17. Visit Magna (I know...but Johann's grandma was born or grew up there so he wants to see it)Check
18. Go to the Scera pools/splash pad
19. Eat at the site of the first Crown Burger Check

Here are some pictures of the things we've managed off the list thus far:

#2 Go to the Gateway Discovery Children's Museum
Overall, I'm glad we went but I don't think we missed out on much by not going more frequently. It was fun for Henry but nothing particularly impressive, especially for the cost.

The ball play area. Sticking the ball up the suction tube.

The construction zone. By far his favorite of the exhibits. He liked the crane and wheelbarrows. We built this sweet house together.

The helicopter. He made all kinds of fantastic sound effects for this.

The earthquake board. We spent a good 2o minutes with this. Because what is more fun for a little boy than to build something up and then watch it shaken into oblivion.

# 19. Eat at the site of the first Crown Burger

Johann got the famous pastrami burger. He said it was pretty good but the pastrami was a little dry. Que serra.

# 6. Visit one of those fancy SLC bakeries

Outside Les Madeleines Bakery in SLC. It's next to a Thai restaurant and Henry was dying to pose as the dancer.

Our yummy pastries/treats. I actually wasn't terribly impressed with anything we got, maybe because we got there right before closing or because we didn't know what to pick. The only item I would pay for again was the carrot cake cookie. Ridiculously good.

# 17. Visit Magna

This place was terrifying. I felt like someone dropped me in the middle of Empire Falls. We drove down the main street and there was a small car show going on attended by what appeared to be the whole of the town. There were bike gangs, I mean the stereotypical Hells Angels looking bike gangs. And their bike gang ladies? madams? I dunno what you call them. I also saw an old staggering drunkard who I am sure inspired the character of Max Roby in Empire Falls. We got leery looks from everyone who bothered to look our way and I was happy to get the heck outta Magna. Small, suspicious and run down. Even Johann who has a love of making places (especially small run down towns) seem only neglected but of vast heart and import was happy to get outta there. So I wouldn't reccommend it setting up a B&B there or anything.

Well, that's what we've managed so far. Hopefully now that Johann's classes are over we'll be able to knock off a few more in much less time.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend

"There is something redemptive about nature," I heard a professor say on a radio program I sometimes catch in the car. This past Memorial Day weekend, I lived that. Things were a little down here in the Simonds' house so getting out and taking a little trail walk felt wonderfully peaceful and soul-soothing. In fact, we've even decided to try and be a more out-doorsie family because of it. Here are a few pictures from our little walk by a lake trail:

We showed Henry some pill bugs, or rollie pollies, whatever you prefer, and he made a tunnel and kept shouting to the bug to go through the tunnel...

We made our way back from the trail in the rain and decided we weren't outdoors-family enough to do anything else outside. So we did some s'mores inside with our gas fireplace. Henry loved it.

4 Years

We did it! 4 years of marriage and no one has lost any limbs or anything!

Our anniversary, May 19th, was on a Thursday this year. Thanks to our friends watching Henry we went out to dinner at Maria Bonitas in Orem. The best part about it is having leftovers for about 2-3 meals. Their flautas are huge, the length of my form arm. They are quite tasty too.

For our anniversary gift we decided to go see the SLC Symphony at Abravanel Hall in SLC the following weekend (thanks to our other friends for watching Henry!). It was the season closer and they did pieces from Strauss, Ives and Stravinsky. I am not familiar with Ives but I really enjoyed it, very bold and somewhat cheeky. The Strauss was beautiful and Stravinsky, well, they did The Rite of Spring, it was INCREDIBLE. Closing with that piece was phenomenal and we left the hall wanting to riot, just like back in the day, only from the spur of awesomeness, not from disapproval. Ok, so we didn't feel like rioting but my goodness, we loved it.

Inside Abravanel Hall before the concert began.

Excited concert goers

View from the lobby.

I think this might have been the best anniversary we have had yet considering we got to go out to dinner AND a concert. It's fun to see our tastes growing, morphing, fusing and enjoying new things together. I love having a partner and companion who I can enjoy life with and share the struggles with. I'm grateful from all I can learn not just by being married but being married to Johann; maybe it's not apparent yet but I feel like he has taught me important traits I have lacked, like taking correction and being more quick to apologize and forgive. I know our shared goal is to help each other become who Heavenly Father wants us to be, so I am grateful to know we support each other along that path by encouraging those traits.
I love my husband and I'm grateful to have spent the past 4 years together. A happy anniversary, indeed.

Do you want capability, safety, and security in...romance, in married life and eternity? Be a true disciple of Jesus. Be a genuine, committed, word-and-deed Latter-day Saint. Believe that your faith has everything to do with your romance, because it does. Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, is the only lamp by which you can successfully see the path of love and happiness. How should I love thee? As He does, for that way “never faileth.”
-Elder Holland, "How do I love thee" New Era, October 2003

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Favorites

Pretty original title, right?

I have a lot of catching up to do, but a quick post will need to suffice.

This week's favorites:

Activity-Hiking the Battle Creek Falls trail in Pleasant Grove with Johann and Henry. Easy and pretty trail.

Quote-The columnist Sidney J. Harris has said that an educated man is one who understands the implications of his beliefs. One can't really understand the implications of his beliefs in connection with the gospel of Jesus Christ unless he understands, conceptually, what it is all about. Obviously, we do not know in depth, nor do we know all things, but for us not to know the implications of out beliefs make us vulnerable intellectually and behaviorally in a way that is not true if we can develop our conceptual powers. There are great opportunities to achieve this kind of development in the home and in the Church organizations. The need for greater individual study of the gospel-more scholarship on the part of individual members who do not demand of the Church that it supply them with intellectual handouts-is also something which can start to be met in the home. We can be much more effective as leaders and followers if we engaged in individual gospel scholarship. Neal A. Maxwell, The Collected Works of Neal A. Maxwell, Volume 1, "...A More Excellent Way" p. 126.

Conference Talk- Sister Beck's 2007 April address to the YW session. She is incredible.

Meal-Beef and wild rice

Thing to lust after-Books to stock up on for Henry from Puffin Classics.
You can go here and enter to win a set for free. If you win it though, you
owe me book for leading you there. I WILL haunt you.

Blog Post-From my friends Kelly and Nate's blog: My Mini Monster Squad. 1. because they are so cute! 2. I have hopes that sucking up publicly will help ingratiate me so I can get one for Henry. =)

Well, that should do it for this week. I will be working on catching up as the time becomes available.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Binary Solo*

It's a well established fact that Henry loves robots. As a tribute to his deep and abiding passion, here are some of his favorite robot videos. Enjoy:

Sony's Dancing Robots:

Poor Honda's Asimo Takes a Tumble: (this guy is household name for us now)

In one of his finer moments, Asimo directs the Detroit Orchestra:

Toyota's Robot Quartet

Finally, if you are really stoked about robots, a video that discusses robots in general and the advances over the years as well as the myths and fears over robots:

Now you can study up and prepare for the robot invasion.

*Flight of the Conchords...anyone?